After Ida, Somerset out to save homestand

September 2nd, 2021

As the remnants of Hurricane Ida ravaged the Mid-Atlantic region and New England overnight into Thursday, the world of Minor League Baseball was not spared.

In addition to causing postponements or cancellations at seven ballparks (those of Triple-A Lehigh Valley and Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in Pennsylvania; Double-A Bowie and High-A Aberdeen in Maryland; Double-A Hartford in Connecticut; Double-A New Hampshire; High-A Brooklyn) on Wednesday, the storm left Double-A Somerset's TD Bank Ballpark in Bridgewater, N.J., severely flooded.

The Yankees-affiliated Patriots had been slated to play the Baysox at Bowie on Wednesday and were due to return home on Tuesday for a six-game series against the Hartford Yard Goats, which was scheduled as the team's final homestand of the 2021 season.

Marc Russinoff, Somerset's senior vice president of communications and media relations, isn't sure that's going to happen.

"Don't know where we're at. ... Some of our staff went in today to do what cleanup they can. There’s still water on the field and in the basement areas," he said. "Once the water recedes, we’ll clean up as much as we can and get ready for business again. We haven’t been able to assess the damage yet. We’re just starting the process.

"It’s going to take some time before we’re able to evaluate everything from the field and basement levels and the parking lots. They’ve been underwater since last night. When things started to really flood, we do everything we can to make sure everything is clean and make sure everyone is safe."

The Patriots, who were members of the independent Atlantic League from 1998-2020 before joining the Double-A Northeast this year, have seen serious storm damage before. In 1999 -- the year TD Bank Ballpark opened -- Hurricane Floyd flooded Bridgewater, and Hurricane Irene did the same in 2011.

"The community comes together to support each other and get through these tough times," Russinoff said.

"With Floyd, the area got hit really hard. Everything around the ballpark flooded, including the ballpark itself. It was the end of season, right after the playoffs, and a few days later we hosted Willie Nelson [for a ballpark concert]. It went off without a hitch, and we were able to raise money for the community.

"After Irene, we were on the road and were able to keep the games we had remaining on schedule. ... We were able to do it through the work of our crew and staff. You wouldn’t have known that days before the ballpark was underwater."

And with the ballpark underwater again, the Patriots have one eye cast outward.

"We look at our neighbors, their houses, the businesses in this area, who have to struggle through this again -- coming out of COVID and going through another hit," Russinoff said. "But the people come through. They rise up and support. We want to bring the community together to support each other. We’ll think about all the ways we can support the community and the people who have been affected."

The team hopes that will include hosting baseball next week.

"We’ll see what it looks like this time, if we can pull off another miracle and get it together. It looks bad, but we’ve done it before," Russinoff said. "We’ll evaluate to see if it’s safe, that the ballpark is ready and the field is playable. We’ll make the decision with as much information as we have, keeping safety in mind.

"We can’t control Mother Nature. But there are things we can control, and we’ll do our best to do those."